Vessels to be produced in Gdansk again, from 2021

‘We intend investment in high tech production to save labor costs and improve quality,' the Deputy Chairman of the Industrial Development Agency, ARP, which has taken over control of Gdańsk shipyard from its Ukrainian investor, told PolandInEnglish in an exclusive interview on Friday.

As we reported earlier this month, the Polish Industrial Development Agency ARP bought out the previous Ukrainian billionaire majority shareholder. The ARP thus gained a 100 percent stake in the employer of over 860 people, in a deal which includes GSG Towers, specializing in the production of masts for wind turbines.

The Gdańsk shipyard, known worldwide as the birthplace of the Solidarity trade union in the 1980’s, after strikes which were key to the formation of an organized opposition to Communism in Poland, had once again fallen on hard times.

Harsh reality

The yard had several false starts in the harsh reality of capitalism, narrowly avoiding closure at the end of the 80s when its former Comecon country clients in DDR and USSR stopped ordering. Its strategic investor from 2006 was Sergei Taruta, the Ukrainian billionaire. He was then head of the Doneck-based ISD group which had previously purchased the Częstochowa steelworks in Southern Poland.

Good relations

In an exclusive interview with PolandInEnglish at their offices in what was once the Communist Party HQ, Mr Andrzej Kensbok, ARP's Deputy Chairman assured that unlike in the bad old days, nowadays the management have good relations with the trade unions, who now understand that the good health of the yard is what keeps jobs safe.

Mr Kensbok said that under the Ukrainians the shipyard “had made mistakes by forsaking the more profitable production of whole vessels to the production of blocks,” the component sections of the hulls of vessels, as well as concentrating on the wind turbine production side of its business to the detriment of its shipbuilding capacity.

“We want to return to the production of whole vessels, which will take two and a half years, as well as masts for offshore wind turbines.”

Back from Norway?

As much of the old workforce of the yards in Poland had taken up offers in Stavanger, Norway, PolandInEnglish asked whether Mr Kensbok intended on bringing them.

“They did not all go to Norway as we have over 850 staff. We notice that there is an inflow of workers when there is a contract” said Mr Kensbok.

The full version of the interview with Mr Kensbok can be viewed here .